The Pitt wrestling team struggled badly this year. A few individual guys had nice seasons but from a team vantage point, at 4-11 in duals, it was the worst showing since 2008-09 when the team was 4-9. Pitt did pull off a really nice upset this year in defeating No. 18 Oklahoma, but in general, it was a pretty rough season.
While the regular season has concluded, a few Panthers will be chasing some individual postseason prizes. This weekend is the ACC Tournament and, after that, the NCAAs.
Seedings were released for the ACC Tournament this week (here are the full brackets) and 133-pounder Dom Forys is really the only one that got a great seed. He’s No. 1 in his weight class and is the favorite to win a title there. He also enters as the defending champion, having won last year.
After that, the Panthers have seven wrestlers seeded No. 4, including heavyweight Ryan Solomon, L.J. Bentley (125 pounds), Nick Zanetta (141), Taleb Rahmani (157), Jake Wentzel (165), Gregg Harvey (184), and Kellan Stout (197). At 149 pounds, Robert Lee is fifth and Tommy O’Brien is sixth at 174. As there are six ACC teams, No. 6 is the lowest seed you can receive.
Last year Pitt had three tournament winners in Forys, Rahmani, and the departed Teshan Campbell.
The seeding for Rahmani is lower than what you would have expected coming into this season given that he won the ACC Tournament in his class last season. Barring injuries keeping guys out for several weeks, I can’t imagine many former champions have finished as low in the seeding the very next year.
Solomon, arguably the team’s second best wrestler, will have his work cut out for him as the No. 4 seed. Should he win his first bout, he’ll go against No. 1 seed, Jacob Kasper, who is 32-2. Solomon has actually had some success against Kasper, though. First, he upset him last season when Kasper was ranked No. 3 in the nation and then at the ACC Tournament, went to overtime with him, losing a close bout, 2-1. Kasper won a little easier this season, 5-1, but the two have had some close bouts.
One final note is that Stout and O’Brien are both getting the nod here. O’Brien replaced a struggling Austin Bell in the lineup and while both are winless in duals this season, the coaches still have him ahead of Bell at the moment. Stout was replaced for a little while by Zach Bruce but he’s returned back to the lineup.
Forys is clearly Pitt’s best shot at having a champion this year and you can even make the argument that he’s the only realistic chance the team has. In a year where Pitt won’t be competing from a team standpoint and might not even win more than one title, this all becomes about trying to simply have guys with strong enough showings to send as many to the NCAA Tournament as possible.
The tournament will start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday and will be on WatchESPN. The finals will take place at 7:00 p.m.